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The main curator of the Masquerel Museum identified Paul Cezanne


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WILLIAMSBURG. Analysis and testing of the picture «Miracle slave» confirmed the assumption that it was written by Paul Cezanne as a copy of the original work about 300 years ago.

The replica was produced for educational purposes and is part of the exhibition held at the Muscarelle Museum of Art. The exhibition runs until 13 August. It consists of six paintings of old masters, which the museum was able to buy, due to the fact that they were misidentified and undervalued.

Italian artist of the Renaissance Jacopo Tintoretto Robusti wrote the original of this painting in 1548. Currently, the original is in the Gallery of the Academy in Venice. He is referred to as the «Miracle of a slave» or «The miracle of St. Mark, the deliverer of a slave», and depicts the story of St. Mark saving the slave who was punished for worship.

The original is a much larger work than a copy of Cezanne, which was not previously identified and entered the Dorotheum auction in Vienna in 2013.

«I saw this and realized that it was Cezanne from his early experimental teenage period, around the end of the 1860s,» says Spike, who is one of the most famous connoisseurs of old masters and, in particular, the Italian baroque artist Mattia Preti. Together with the director of the museum, Aaron De Groft, they again studied the picture before deciding to buy it for the museum.

Spike points out the small changes that Cezanne did for his work in comparison with the original. For example, the face of the main character has a striking resemblance to Cezanne’s portraits. There are also features typical of Cezanne’s works of the 1860s, including nasal exaggeration, darkened eyes and thicker necks.

Although Cezanne never traveled to Venice, he often spoke of his passionate admiration for Tintoretto’s work and considered him his favorite artist. Cezanne mentioned this picture in an interview published by Joachim Gaske about his friend, Cezanne, in 1921.

But there is a scientific approach, De Groft and Spike decided that for this particular picture it would be advisable to perform X-ray and infrared testing, which revealed several layers of ink and the presence of an unusual pigment mauvein (violet diazine dye synthesized in the XIX century).

Kristin Vustholz said that the scientific expertise found no reason to doubt the sign of Spike. She noted that science most often sets itself the task of technical analysis, and does not confirm the attribution of the picture. In the case of the «Miracle slave» science could add confidence to the version of Spike.

Kristin Wustholz, professor of chemistry, works in a seven-year partnership with Shelley Svoboda, a senior curator at the Colonial Foundation of Williamsburg. Together, they improved and advanced the technology for identifying pigments in historical paintings and other artifacts.

Susan Buck, an independent consultant, performed polarized light microscopy, obtaining some information from the tiny samples she took off the surface of the picture. But polarization light microscopy requires large sample patterns to get good results when identifying the pigment. The Freedom-Vustholz technique uses SERS-spectroscopy of Raman scattering on the surface. This is a minimally destructive method that requires only the smallest sample and this is the most modern process for identifying a synthetic organic pigment.

Freedom and Vustholz found in the painting a secret pigment, known as Mowein. Mowein is a synthetic organic compound discovered accidentally in 1856 by an English chemist, William Henry Perkin, who tried to synthesize quinine from coal tar.

The scientists indicated that the Mouvein was produced only between 1856 and 1869, during which Cezanne was between the ages of 17 and 30. It was in this early romantic period that Cezanne copied the works of other artists.

The popularity of the mauveen ended when people discovered that the pigment had a rather large Achilles heel. «The problem - and the reason that the history of the hobby of artists with the Mouvein lasts only 10 years - is that it is not really color. His color is gradually disappearing, «says Vustholz.

In the existing scientific literature, there are many details about Cezanne, his materials and his preferred methods, but Mowein is not mentioned in connection with him in any of the previously published catalogs.


1 06.09.2017 petrovilia


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